With Xbox One having few exclusives, is Titanfall the one game to put it over the top?
Perspective is a powerful thing in the gaming industry. How fans perceive a company is generally important, but for gaming a company’s profile is amplified ten times. Microsoft’s DRM turnaround and symbolic embracing of self-publishing is quickly turning heads, though some are still scorned even after Microsoft reversed its antics.
And now that Xbox One mostly matches the PS4 in functionality terms, pricing and exclusive titles become the vocal points. Or the rallying cries for the legions of fanboys who still insist on arguing aimlessly over the Internet. The notable game to watch in this console tug-of-war is Titanfall, the first from Respawn, a studio formed by ousted Infinity Ward co-founders Jason West and Vince Zampella.
Sweeping up E3 awards, Titanfall grabbed the show’s attendees by the heartstrings. Just before Microsoft declared its intent to switch from those languishing policies amid public backlash, Respawn’s game was the Xbox brand’s proudest moment from the show. The higher profile given to Titanfall–facing titanic expectations and seemingly fulfilling them easily–was Microsoft’s one shining takeaway from an otherwise disastrous conference. Xbox One has other exclusives, sure, but none had the roaring applause that Titanfall received.
Can Titanfall then be a console seller? Since the two consoles offer essentially the same package, a single game might be the crux needed to put one over the top. That is assuming Respawn’s first is a runaway hit critically upon release–a vital point given that Microsoft’s Xbox One so far has a limited impressive games list. At this point, Microsoft has underplayed its card: Forza, a barely free Killer Instinct and the promise of another Halo in the saga are not enough. Objecting to the rule is Dead Rising 3, maybe, but if that’s a console-seller is impossible to know.
With EA as publisher, it’s surprising to see Titanfall as an Xbox One exclusive, for the very reason that EA loves making money. One platform offers less availability, unless Microsoft signed a lucrative deal with both EA and Respawn. To that end, the high-profile game means that much more to Microsoft, and the console-maker intends to push it in advertising to sell units. The only problem with that strategy: Titanfall isn’t a launch title. Exposure from it could have driven Xbox One sales during Christmas, the hottest consumer period, but the game won’t arrive in time.
There is the notion that Titanfall may be coming to PS4 also, but in 2015. When asked by Eurogamer, lead artist Joel Emslie said the development team wants as many people to play as possible. EA vice-director Patrick Söderlund later rebuked those claims, giving the corporate answer, “We haven’t communicated anything on that, and I can’t comment on that right now.” He added later, “We’re proud to be exclusive to Xbox.”
Whether a timed exclusive or not, Microsoft is banking on Titanfall to prime those unconvinced to go Xbox One. I can personally say games aren’t the persuader for me this time around. But how invaluable Titanfall is to Microsoft is undeniable at this point.
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